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Public Health Information - Mask and Vaccine Mandate, Booster/Third Dose and Reopening of Vaccination Partnership sites.

Hello Community and Business Partners:

We are now a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic. While significant progress has been made, the pandemic is not over – the Delta variant is the latest example of how adaptable viruses can be. It is a faster, more efficient version of the original virus that causes COVID-19, spreading twice as quickly and causing those infected to carry around much more virus in their nose and throat.

As the virus adapts, so too must the guidance public health and elected officials offer to keep the entire community safe. New vaccine and mask mandates announced over the last two weeks indicate we will most likely be dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic longer than we hoped. We must continue to protect our community, especially those who are unable to be vaccinated, including kids under 12 and immune-compromised community members.

Washington State Mask Mandate

On August 18, Governor Inslee issued a statewide indoor mask mandate expanding the existing mandate to include vaccinated individuals. The expanded mandate went into effect on August 23 and is a result of record-breaking COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across the state, along with every county now falling within the CDC’s substantial or high transmission criteria.

Masks are now required in most public indoor spaces, including restaurants, grocery stores, and public-facing offices. Limited exceptions include those younger than five, people with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, office spaces that are not easily accessible to the public where all individuals are vaccinated, and small, private indoor gatherings where everyone is vaccinated.

Now is a good time to assess your mask quality and supply! To resist the Delta variant, you will want both a good fit and a high-quality mask. While it is not required, health officials strongly recommend that people wear masks in crowded outdoor settings such as concerts, farmers markets, and fairs.

Vaccines: Boosters & Third Doses

The CDC and FDA have authorized administering an additional dose of mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) COVID-19 vaccines for individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, such as people who have received organ transplants or are receiving cancer treatments. This additional dose is meant to improve immunocompromised people’s response and the effectiveness of the vaccine series. This additional dose authorization does not apply to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine currently.

The federal government has also stated its plan to begin offering booster shots broadly this fall, subject to the FDA and CDC evaluations of the effectiveness and safety of a booster shot of Pfizer or Moderna. The FDA and CDC have not yet approved nor recommended these boosters for the larger population. Currently, Public Health does not offer or recommend booster doses for other groups. Public Health expects to receive further guidance in the coming weeks.

Vaccines Mandates

On August 9, Governor Inslee announced that state employees and workers in private health care and long-term care settings will be required to be fully vaccinated by October 18. King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan joined the governor in similarly announcing that all county and city public employees will also be required to get vaccinated by then.

Just over a week later, in conjunction with the mask mandate, the Governor expanded the vaccine mandate to include those working in K-12, most childcare and early learning, and higher education settings. This expansion means the following individuals are now also required to be fully vaccinated by October 18:

K-12 educators, school staff, coaches, bus drivers, school volunteers, and any others working in public, private, and charter school facilities
Education staff, faculty, and contractors at Washington’s higher education institutions
Childcare providers who are licensed, certified, and contracted in early learning and childcare programs
Childcare providers who are license-exempt in early learning, childcare, and youth-development programs
Any contractors (coaches, volunteers, trainers, etc.) who are associated with childcare programs

The Governor’s new vaccine mandate will not include a test-out option and employees who refuse to be vaccinated will be subject to dismissal from employment. There is, however, a well-defined exemption for individuals with a legitimate medical reason or sincerely held religious belief. These exemptions do not include personal or philosophical objections.

Many employers in the private sector are looking at vaccination requirements and considering the best ways to keep their teams safe. The Seattle Chamber is hosting a webinar on employer vaccine mandates as part of its #WeGotThisWA series. The event, taking place on August 25, will feature local companies who are currently requiring vaccination for their employees and what considerations were a part of that decision, along with how the implementation is going.

King County Vaccination Partnership Sites

In anticipation of increased demand, the King County Vaccination Partnership (KCVP) Network will see several sites reopen or expand hours in the upcoming weeks to provide additional access points and capacity for administering more vaccines this fall. This includes additional days or hours of operation at KCVP-Redmond, Snoqualmie Valley Hospital drive—through, and the reopening of both KCVP-Renton and KCVP-Shoreline. Stay tuned for more information or check out Public Health’s ‘Getting Vaccinated’ webpage.

Stay safe and be well,

Diane Agasid Bondoc, REHS/RS

Workplace Prevention Task Force

Community Mitigation and Recovery – COVID-19 Response

Public Health – Seattle & King County

Direct phone: (206) 263-2157 | Eastgate mainline: (206) 477-8050

Email: diane.agasid@kingcounty.gov




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